Antiretroviral treatment and time since HIV-1 diagnosis are associated with large artery stiffness in sub-Saharan African HIV-1 patients

Titus F. Msokar, Gary P. Van Guilder, Yvo M. Smulders, Marceline van Furth, John A. Bartlett, Michiel A. van Agtmael
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HIV-1 infection in northern populations is associated with increased large artery stiffness, both in the absence and presence of combination antiretroviral treatment (cART). It is unclear if similar changes occur in sub-Sahara African HIV-infected persons. The study aimed to determine whether HIV-1 infection with and without cART is associated with large artery stiffness in a cohort of HIV-1-infected patients in Tanzania.


In this cross-sectional study, 146 subjects were recruited: 40 uninfected controls, 51 HIV-1-infected untreated persons, and 55 on cART for at least 12 months. Patients were screened for history of hepatic, renal, haematological or cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dyslipoproteinaemia, and hypertension. Following screening, 4 untreated and 21 cART HIV-1 patients were excluded; leaving 47 HIV-1-infected untreated and 34 cART patients to be studied. cART included first line treatment: lamivudine/zidovudine with nevirapine or efavirenz. Large artery stiffness was assessed using applanation tonometry via pulse wave analysis to determine aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV) and augmentation index corrected to a heart rate of 75 bpm (AIx@HR75).


Aortic PWV was higher (p = 0.017) in the HIV-1-infected patients on cART (aPWV: 8.2 ± 1.8 m/s) vs. untreated patients (7.3 ± 1.5 m/s) and independent of blood pressure differences. AIx@HR75 was significantly increased in cART HIV-1 (29 ± 8%) vs. untreated HIV-1 patients (23 ± 10%; p = 0.038) and controls (23 ± 10%; p = 0.032). Duration of HIV-1 and cART were independent predictors of arterial stiffening in HIV-1 patients.


The surrogate markers for arterial stiffness suggest an increased cardiovascular risk in sub-Saharan African HIV-1 patients on first line therapy.